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Monday, July 6, 2015

Paso Robles, California - Part 1




If there is one California bias I would admit to, it’s that my home state makes the best wine in the world. Yes, the French make a great product…so do the Italians, Australians, South Americans, and even a few other states…but the grapes of this state just taste so much better to me. If you doubt this, try a glass of J. Phelps Insignia - especially if you can get someone else to pay for it - and let me know.



The wine terrain of California ranges from cool to blisteringly hot, extremely well developed to almost non-existent, from a Disney-like atmosphere to a shack in some guy’s backyard but the vintners here almost all have a lot of passion for their work and put it all on the line and in the bottle.

Watch the Video!

Grazing around the wine chatter online and in print, a lot of talk about the next big “thing” in California wine is the Paso Robles area, sitting south of the Monterey wine country and just north of the San Luis Obispo area.  Mornings here are cool, with clouds and fog wandering over from the nearby Cayucos coast, turning hot and sunny in the afternoon.


The two main growing areas here are pretty neatly cleaved by the 101 freeway between the cooler west side vineyards and the sun drenched east side wineries.

With Tim away for another session at camp, Letty and I decide to head up here for a few days of wining, dining, hiking, and beaching.


The afternoon is aging fast as we cross the hills from McFarland, through the James Dean Memorial Junction, and then right to our hotel. This time, we’re staying at the Best Western Black Oak, just on the other side of the 101.

The hotel has a few accessible rooms with king or queen sized beds and your choice of roll-in or bathtub bathrooms. We’re here without Tim and the wheelchair, so we opt for a deluxe king size room on the second floor.  This room is different from the standard king room mainly because there is a recliner in the room.

It’s a nice room with a comfortable bed and includes such amenities as a refrigerator, coffee maker, microwave, hair dryer, flat-screen TV, wireless or hard-wired Internet, and a nice selection of toiletries. 



Outside is a nice pool area with a lot of plants and shady areas, a kids playground, a picnic area with barbecues, and a diner attached to the hotel. Guests can get a $5 coupon for Margie’s Diner at the front desk.

Since we’re celebrating my birthday also, the management thoughtfully left a bottle of champagne and a couple of glasses in the fridge.


In the morning, a drive over to Spring Street takes us to Springside Restaurant. In this converted old house, we sight by a bright window overlooking their flower garden. Breakfast is omelets and pancakes…Letty had spinach and cheese while I had linguisa and cheese. The pancakes were a perfect mix of slightly crunchy outer layer with a fluffy interior, covered with melted butter. It was delectable.


Tummies full, loaded with protein and carbs, we head over to Larry Moore Park. From here, trails wind over to the Salinas River in the shadow of the freeway. Today, the river is more of a creek with most of its water flowing underground. We hike across two dry channels before reaching the water where dozens of small frogs hop around.


We spend a few minutes playing catch and release with the amphibians before moving on. Back on the bank of the channel, we turn to bird watching and catch sight of a thrasher and a flycatcher. A few more trails lead into shady groves of trees with loads of wild anise growing underneath.


A few hundred calories and a couple of miles later, we’re back in the car heading off to the hotel.


Be sure to stay around for part two of our time in Paso Robles coming very soon.

-Darryl
Copyright 2011 – Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Cocktail Hour: Riviera Rum Punch

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia
Infrogmation of New Orleans under CC-BY license

Punches are a class of cocktails that mix five or more ingredients together to make a fruity, refreshing beverage for a hot day.  It seems that the majority of punches use rum as an alcoholic base.

Our punch today is in this tradition.  Using rum, limeade, lime juice, simple syrup, and amaretto for that Mediterranean flavor.


Watch the Video!
Here is the recipe, for one drink:
1 1/2 oz. rum
1/2 oz. amaretto
1 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice
1 oz. simple syrup
limeade


In a highball glass, 2/3 filled with crushed ice, pour all ingredients except limeade.  Fill to top with limeade and stir.

Cheers!



-Darryl

Friday, July 3, 2015

Seattle, Washington - Part 2



Previously on Seattle, Part 1...



We'd saw some overpriced baseball, met some TV stars, watched big fish swimming underwater, and just missed having to be evacuated from a monorail.






The next morning, we decide to walk downtown. A bit of a mistake when we pass a rough section where drug deals are taking place out in the open and a couple of guys start to fight because one thinks the other shorted him out of a couple of rocks of crack. It’s just a short strip down the wrong street but next time we’ll get back on the bus instead.







At the ferry terminal, we buy our tickets and take a 30 minute trip across the sound to
Bainbridge Island. It’s about a half mile walk from the ferry terminal to the middle of town…there are also buses if you can’t walk that far…where we find a delightful little farmers market going on with some unusual fruit and vegetables. We buy some to make a picnic with later. Down at the waterfront, we find a boardwalk and dirt trail along the water that allows us to hike about half a mile up an inlet where we see some old ferries being mothballed, many blooming flowers, birds, and some beautiful houses.






Back in town, we buy some burgers to go with our fruit for a waterfront picnic.

After spending the morning in Bainbridge, it’s back on the boat. My wife wants some seafood, which curiously, we cannot find a whole lot of here. Some guides suggest Ivar’s, near the ferry terminal, so we head to an outdoor counter there where you can buy food to eat in a nearby dining area.



Ordering here is unique…basically there is no line, no system. Everybody crowds in and when the order taker is ready, everybody just kind of shouts their orders in at the same time. I’m told this is just the traditional way to do it here. We do eventually get our food but it is very chaotic and confusing…not really my cup of tea. The food is good, but it is heavy on the “deep fried” variety of seafood.



Earlier in the week, we walked through the Seattle Center where the Space Needle is located. We had learned that it would be $16 just to take a ride up in the elevator. That’s quite steep. I also learned there are a couple of alternatives.






The circa 1914 Smith tower (of Smith/Corona typewriter fame) near Pioneer Square is one of them. Just a bit shorter than the Space Needle (522 feet vs. 605 feet), the observation deck is actually 2 feet higher than the Space Needle, which has a deck at 520 feet. It’s only $7.50 to go up here to the famous Chinese room and to step out into the fresh air.



It’s very beautiful up there, and it’s not just the view. The owners have amassed a collection
of Chinese antiques and furnishings to enhance the surroundings. A chair up there is supposed to grant magical powers to single women that sit in it…they are to find their groom after doing so.



It is at this point where I’d usually say we went back, had another nice night in the hotel, and went back home but there is one more adventure that would await us. I called the same taxi company that brought us from the airport and reserved an accessible cab for noon the next day to take us back.



At noon, waiting in the rain in front of the hotel…nothing. At 12:20, I called the cab company and asked where the cab was. The man on the phone said, quote, “just because you reserved a cab doesn’t mean one will show up.” When I asked for an ETA, he hung up the phone somewhere between the letters T and A.




Where I come from a reservation means they will set aside the item to be reserved. Also, when a paying customer calls and…politely I might add…asks where the item to be reserved is and when it will be there, you don’t hang up on them.




We had a problem; the airport is 15 miles away on the other side of town. We had no idea when, or even if, our ride would get there. We had one slim chance to get out of town in time to make our 2:40 flight.



Grabbing our bags, we hoofed it to the busiest bus corner about two blocks away. When a bus pulled up, we ask the driver the quickest route to get to the airport. She said, “hop on.”


At Pioneer Square, she dropped us off at the Downtown Transit Tunnel and told us to catch a bus down there (the transit tunnel is like a subway, only used by buses instead). We find the bus, get on, and make it to the airport about an hour before departure. Indeed, Seattle transit workers are the nicest and most accommodating we’ve ever encountered…they really saved the day, and our vacation, by their actions.



As I’m waiting in the departure lounge, my cell phone rings. It’s the taxi driver. He’s in front of the hotel, wondering where the hell I am. I said to him “do you know what your dispatcher did to me when I called?” He said no. I pressed the disconnect button.



Darryl
Copyright 2009 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

ADVENTURES CLOSE TO HOME: Battle of the Drug Store Loyalty Programs


Here in sunny, Southern California, we have three major drug store chains...CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreen's.  We used to have a couple of more, like SavOn (miss them) and Long's, but they were swallowed up by the CVS behemoth.


There was also Thrifty, but they were bought out and became Rite Aid.  Nothing special about the new store, or it's service, but they did keep the Thrifty ice cream counters and still serve Thrifty ice cream in most of our local stores. That is very special to the natives here.


CVS, really kind of a chore to shop here especially since SavOn was so easy and all the SavOn locations became the three letter wonder.  The only thing good I can say about them is that they have a branch located across the street from my office, making it easy to step across the street to get my occasional 12 pack of diet soda.


Walgreen's is usally a fairly pleasant place to shop. They also have little mini stores where you can pop in and out, or go through the drive through to get your prescriptions. There's one across the street from our doctor's office so we go there for our medicines.

Each of these also has their own loyalty program and, while I would normally skip them, you don't get the sale prices if you're not a member. The result is we're members of all three.  Here's how they rate:



RITE AID - Other than sale prices, haven't gotten anything from this one. Recently, they changed it to be part of Plenti.com. This allows you to earn points at a bunch of other places that I hardly shop at such as Exxon/Mobil, Macy's, and Hulu. Last time I was in Rite Aid and punched in my phone number, the cashier gave me a new Plenti card, told me my old account is no longer valid, and to go to plenti.com and just enter my e-mail address to activate. 

Went to Plenti.com to do this and it asks for a bunch of other information from the card, which I didn't have handy.  Since I don't go to Rite Aid all that much anymore, I don't know if or when I'll ever get around to this step.  Feel a bit like I've been sold down the river but since it never did that much for me in the first place, I'm a bit ambivalent about the whole thing.



CVS - Another one I signed up for just because you can't get the sale prices without it. Occasionally, coupons will print out on my receipt for discounts on items I rareley buy at CVS. Lately, they've upped the ante saying if I bring my card in (usually, I just enter the number in the keypad), scan it in a little machine, I'll get even more coupons .

Pass.



Walgreen's - Since we go here the most, I signed up for this one, too. It's pretty straightforward.  Earn points on each purchase.  When your balance goes over 5,000 points, you can use it to pay for things.  Each 5,000 points equals $5 but you can't cash in more that $10 at a time.  You even earn points on the copays for your prescriptions.

You only need your phone number to earn and redeem points and they send you a balance sheet each month.  Super easy...I think you know which loyalty program keeps me loyal.




Darryl
Copyright 2015 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Monday, June 29, 2015

Seattle, Washington - Part 1



The scene on TV is scary. About half a dozen firetrucks…lights flashing, ladders extended…were under the track of the monorail. Frightened passengers were climbing down waiting for the safety of solid ground under them.





That could’ve been us...



The flight to Seattle was nice. Southwest Airlines has vaulted its way to the top of domestic carriers with a simple strategy; keep it simple and keep it consistent. As “passengers with special needs”, we were able to board first and snag the bulkhead seats. One knock on Southwest is that there are no reserved seats for most passengers. It’d be nice to know ahead of time where you’ll sit but this is one time being disabled comes in handy.



The flight left from Ontario, California right on time at 9:50am. The baggage handlers deftly handled Tim’s 350-pound power chair, using a special lift right outside the jetway door. A quick stop in San Jose, and we’re arriving at SEA-TAC airport at 12:30pm.



I had called a taxi service ahead of time to reserve an accessible cab but they said just to call when we arrived. I did and we had a ride within 30 minutes. Don’t cheer too much, though, as you’ll see later.



It was half an hour and $42 dollars later that we arrived at our hotel, the Homewood Suites in the Queen Anne District, just three blocks from the space needle and across the street from the late Post-Intelligencer newspaper building with its beautiful globe on top.



I had called about two weeks earlier to make reservations and talked to an Ed at the reservations office. All the accessible rooms were taken but he assured me he’d have a bath chair put in the room if we stayed there. At $215 dollars a night, this was the cheapest decent hotel I could find so with a little trepidation, I made the reservation.



At check in, who else would be manning the counter but Ed who not only remembered our phone conversation but also told me to check out the room and let him know if the chair he put in was OK. It was and provided a nice level of access in the bathroom…all we needed, really.



The room itself was a spacious two-room suite with a separate bedroom and a queen sized sofa bed. It also had a small kitchen, walk-through closet, robes, ironing board, and just a slight view of Puget Sound out the window.



There is an evening manager’s reception…with beer, wine, and appetizers…along with a hot buffet breakfast served each morning. One notable thing is that a nice, local microbrew is poured along with the usual bud and bud light. The bar is manned by Ed who greets us and tells us what appetizers he’s serving. While Ed is pouring the beer I comment to him that he sure seems to be everywhere. He tells me that the managers take turns running the reception by picking what appetizers will be served and manning the bar. It’s a very hands-on approach and I don’t know when I’ve had better service at a major chain hotel.





That evening, at Ed’s suggestion, we walk a little over a block to Buckley’s. This is a local pub that serves great microbrews for $3 during happy hour and served one heck of a macaroni and cheese dish for $13. Bubbling with cheese and infused with bacon, it’s the best dish we’ll have this week.



We continue on to the Seattle Center…the former World’s Fair site…and try to ride the monorail into town. I say “try to,” because it is not working at the moment. The workers have no idea when it will be running.



After a delicious breakfast in the hotel’s very nice dining room…with its floor to ceiling windows giving a view out to the sound…we head downtown. There are two major bus stops near the hotel with frequent bus service. Unfortunately, we are just outside of the downtown free fare zone, so we have to pay but it’s not much and 20 minutes later, we’re downtown.



Our first stop is the Mariners Team Store to buy tickets for a game. The main reason we’re in Seattle at all is that we’re trying to add another stadium to our list. Tim’s goal is to see every major league stadium. We get tickets at first base at the top of the field level for $60 each. This is a bit steep when the same tickets at our stadium…Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California…are $24. This is also for a team that will go on to finish with the less-than-stellar record of 61 wins and 101 losses to finish in last place 39 games behind the division champion Angels.



It’s not a long walk from there to the Pike Place Market, home to the world’s first Starbucks and the flying fish guys. It’s a very touristy place and also has a lot of traffic on the street out front but there is some great produce here. We buy some fruit to take back to the hotel, watch the guys throw some fish around, visit a few shops, and head back to the hotel to rest up for the game.



A couple of blocks away, we’re able to catch a bus that will take us all the way to Safeco Field, home of the Mariners. We get there early and the Pyramid brewery and bar are right across the street having happy hour but Letty and Tim aren’t interested. We get in and, as we do with any new stadium, take a lap around to see what’s there.



We find our seats and are shocked to find they are completely blocked by a TV camera platform. I can’t believe they charged us $180 dollars to sit here! I find an usher and complain. He says I have to wait for a manager who, when he shows up, allows us to move.


Mind you, this game is far from a sell-out. Less than half of the seats will be filled tonight…this is just unforgivable that the team would sell us such lousy seats at these prices when many better locations were available.




At our new seats…about fifty feet away from our original location…we settle in for the game. I get us some of the local specialty snack…Ichi Rolls from the Sushi stand…and watch at Ichiro, Arian Beltre, and company go down in flames again.



One very nice feature to the stadium is that in rainy Seattle (yes, it rained nearly every day, even in August) there is a roof over the park to keep it out. It is still an outdoor stadium; it’s just that the retractable roof rolls over like a giant umbrella when it starts to rain. That’s what makes it funny when I see during the next season that they had a rainout in Seattle. Really?
They couldn’t put the roof on?



After the game, we go outside to catch a bus going back. We find out that one bus comes by around every twenty minutes. One…for the several thousand fans that are exiting.


Luckily, the bus driver sees us and holds everybody else back so that Tim and his chair can board first. We also find out that we have to transfer to another bus at Pioneer Square to continue on to the hotel.



Now I have to note that there is a commuter rail station right next to the stadium but it doesn’t occur to anyone here…supposedly the greenest city in America…that it would alleviate so much traffic to the game to run trains? Only on certain weekend games to they run Sounder trains…not during the week. Only that lonely, solitary bus coming by every twenty minutes.



(Note: The new Link light rail, which opened up a year later, now serves the stadium)



I have to say at this point, however, that the bus drivers in Seattle are the best and nicest transit drivers we’ve ever come across. They always strapped down the chair, were friendly, and never hesitated to give us information about the town while we were there. They would also turn out to save our bacon in a major way later.




The next day, we walk over to the Seattle Center. The monorail is still broken. Inside one of the halls, we have a very good hot dog and go outside to see the fountains. They have this cool fountain set in a large bowl that the kids can go play in. It even has a wheelchair ramp that spirals down the side. After much coaxing, Tim finally goes down and has the time of his life dodging the spray.



I notice a monorail moving along the beam. We hurry to the station, buy tickets, and we’re off on the cheesiest transit you’re likely to come across. The driver dresses like he’s on Star Trek and sings Elvis songs during the one-mile journey. The train is old and, of course, looks like what people in 1962 thought trains would look like in the future.



At the other end in downtown, we explore the area, have some coffee, visit the Nordstrom’s flagship store before hopping back on board to the Seattle Center.



Next, we get some sandwiches from a nearby deli and catch a bus to Ballard. Another bus takes us the last mile to the Ballard Locks, a Corps of Engineers project that allows vessels in from the salt-water sound to the fresh water Lake Union and on to Lake Washington by lifting them in the twin locks.



It’s an interesting process to watch…you can go right to the edge, talk to the people on the boats as they wait to be raised or lowered. Afterward, you can go across the locks to the salmon ladders on the other side.



A ramp lets wheelchairs into the underground chamber where you can watch the massive fish swim upstream. Going out to sea, large pipes act as waterslides giving the fish the ride of their lives as they shoot into the ocean.



Back on the Ballard side of things is a nice park and pretty garden where we have a picnic of our sandwiches on top of a green hill looking down on the locks.



Instead of the bus, we decided to walk back to Ballard going by way of a few shops along the way to buy some smoked salmon to take home. We also see a couple of genuine TV stars…the Wizard and the Northwestern. These two boats are featured on the Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch and are based here in Ballard, as are a few other boats from the series. Didn’t see any of the Hansen brothers though.



Back on the bus, we get stuck in a massive traffic jam but finally make it back to the hotel. Some more light rail or even a few ferries would make this city much more bearable.



At the hotel that night, I’m watching the news where a scene of multiple fire trucks have their lights on and ladders extended. It seems that the monorail broke down again…just a few hours after our ride…and the passengers were being evacuated down those ladders. I don’t really want to know how they would have had to evacuate Tim.



Stay tuned for part 2...
 
Darryl
Copyright 2009 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Sunday, June 28, 2015

THE COCKTAIL HOUR: Captain O


Too easy so this will be short...

The name comes from Captain Morgan rum and the O is for Organic for the organic fruit juice we got at the Haggen Oaks farmers market in Bakersfield, California.


Watch the Video!


Get fresh pressed organic juice of your choice at your local farmers market.  Fill a glass with ice. Pour 2 ounces of Captain Morgan over the ice, fill with the juice.


You're done.




Cheers!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Back to the Streets of Bakersfield - Part 2



See Part 1 of this report here.

It's morning and, after having breakfast at the dining room of the Homewood Suites,we are heading out to do some thrift shop shopping. Bakersfield is loaded with second hand shops, pawn shops, and antique stores.


Watch the Video!




Before we get out of the parking lot, however, we notice a crowd of cars at the Kaiser Permanente medical clinic next door which is closed for the weekend. We head over to see what the commotion is all about.

The commotion is the Haggin Oaks Farmers Market, which sets up shop here each weekend. 




It's huge, full of organic produce, crafts, food booths, musicians, and even a couple of vendors for your pets.  There are so many free samples of food here we are wondering why we ate at the hotel.



While Letty ponders a few crafts vendors, Tim and I nibble our way through the fruit and food vendors.  We end up with a nice size bag of citrus, some summer stone fruit, fresh squeezed apple/cherry/pomegranate juice (will come in handy later for cocktails), and some craft items my wife picked up.

Luckily, it's next door to the hotel and we've got a kitchen in our room. I stash the food in the fridge to retard the ripening until we go home. 

I drop Letty off at a Goodwill store on Coffee Road while Tim and I run the van through the car wash next door.



The afternoon is spent back at the hotel where we make good use of the pool lift and go for a swim. We meet a couple where the woman grew up here and her boyfriend was visiting from West Virginia. 



We talk and gossip about all the Bakersfield history and characters while having some rum and farmers market juice punches before taking a nap to get ready for the night.

Years ago, Bakersfield had one of the premiere small race tracks in the country, Mesa Marin, with a high banked, paved, 1/2 mile oval.  The relentless march of urbanization doomed the track, which is now a park for a new housing development.



About 15 miles east of where it was, a replacement was built far from the sprawl of Bakersfield in the oil fields off of Interstate 5 on the west side of the valley.  Kern County Raceway Park has opened this year to take the place of Mesa Marin.

Our choices tonight were honky tonking at Trout's...a nightclub in nearby Oildale...or the races. Since we're kind of early birds and the music would take us late into the night, races won over music today.



The facility at Kern County Raceway is brand, spanking new and spiffy. Handicap parking at the gate, liberal use of ramps and elevators, and perfectly placed wheelchair seating in the shade makes this a wonderfully accessible track. 



Letty notices that the initials, put on 5 foot lighted red letters on the top of the stands, are KCRP or K-Crap as she calls it. The track is not crap but the beer selection sure is...Bud, Bud Lite, Bud Lite Lime, and Michelob Ultra are the only choices here.



I told Letty you'd have a better experience if you drank water and hyperventilated.

The evening's festivities start off with a monster truck demonstration where a huge truck smashed three junk cars over and over again, getting flung higher and higher in the air with each pass.



The top class of the night, super stocks, run their main even next (I guess qualifying and heat races are held earlier in the day), followed by mini legends cars whose 8-12 year old drivers race on a small 1/8 mile track.



The kids are treated exactly the same as the adult drivers and get to take a picture with the leggy trophy girl and an interview with the on-track announcer.


Next come super cross motorcycles, basically Motocross bikes with street tires who race around a make-do road course and jump set up on the front straight. I found this race to be my favorite of the evening.



After all that, the open wheel modifieds take the track for their 30-lap main event which provides the only crash...a minor one...of the evening. 



It's a lot of fun and we call it a night after that. It's a very dark ride back into town.



In the morning, we head over to do some shopping. Over in downtown, we hit up a few pawn shops and a jewelry store and even find some things we want to buy but no one's in a mood to make a deal today. 

Next, we head over to J&E Restaurant Supply in Old Kern (the old downtown) where Letty scores with some kitchen items.

Tim and I again abandon Letty but leave her the van this time and we walk the sometimes rough streets of east downtown. A quick jump over to the next block along Mill Creek (a canal spiffed up into a nice little riverwalk) to 18th Street.



It's time to stop in with our friends at Mexicali for one of their wonderful margaritas in their friendly little dark bar. (see our video "Southern California's Top Three Margaritas" for more on Mexicali's version)



Eventually, Letty joins us where we walk nearby to Los Tacos de Huicho to have another plate of sopes and tacos to bookend this weekend.



What a fun place this is. Can't wait to come back to our friendly "home away from home."



Darryl
Copyright 2015 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Photos by Letty Musick
Copyright 2015 - All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Hotel Hunters: Bakersfield


The Musick family frequently visits Bakersfield, California. Their usual hotel has been the Springhill Suites, where they'd get a roomy, wheelchair accessible studio suite but they're looking for something new.

"It's starting to show its age," Letty says, "and the air conditioner blows right on my side of the bed."

"Lately, they've been catering to kids sports teams and it is crowded with loud kids," Darryl adds, "and they eat all the food in the breakfast bar."

Now, the family is looking for someplace new for their weekend getaways.



Their wish list has hotel managers digging deep for that perfect room. The family gathers at Mexicali, a favorite bar, and discusses their options over a margarita.

"I'd like a suite so that we can be in one room and Tim can be in another," Darryl replies, "and it'd be nice to be close to the things we'd like to see like the Springhill Suites is."



Letty adds "the bed shouldn't be too hard and it should be relaxing."

With Tim in a wheelchair, the room needs to be accessible but doesn't necessarily need a roll in shower.

"I'd like my own TV with sports networks on it," Tim chimes in.

The budget is $100 per night.



Hotel number one is the Hilton Garden Inn. This property is right next door to the Springhill Suites so the location is perfect.  There are no accessible suites, however, only standard rooms with a king size bed and available rollaway. The room includes a roll in shower.




"Why no accessible suites?" Darryl asks.

The suites are not technically accessible but they are large and have step-free access.  

"The air conditioning system is nice," Letty notes, "it does not blow right on the bed."

The price is $135 per night.

"Whoa...that's over budget," Darryl notes, "it also doesn't include breakfast. At least at Springhill Suites, the price was lower and it included a hot, full breakfast. It's nice but we'll keep on looking."



Hotel number two is a more budget friendly property in the older part of town, east of downtown on Union. The Residence Hotel with Courtyard (formerly the Tropicana) is a recently renovated, older inn. It has accessible rooms but does not serve breakfast but with a budget friendly price of $60 per night and being next door to the family's all-time favorite restaurant, they could easily afford to buy breakfast.




"Look, hon, Los Tacos de Huicho is next door! And Mexicali [their favorite watering hole] is just two blocks away," Letty observes.

"Yeah is does fit the budget and is close to things we like but what is that guy selling out of his car?" Darryl asks, "and is that a hooker?"

Taking a chance on a property that is a bit out of their wish list, hotel number three is farther out away from downtown in the west end of Bakersfield by the California State University there.



Homewood Suites offers a full, two bedroom suite, with a bathtub, a pool with a lift, full breakfast, an in-room kitchen, and an outdoor lounge area with barbecues.  It's still a bit above budget at $120 per night but does hit a lot of of items on their list.




"I like the air conditioning and the bed is comfortable,"Letty says.

"The pool looks like fun and the in-room kitchen is nice," notes her husband, "it is kind of far from the heart of town, though."

"That's true and it's still a bit above budget," Letty replies, "but it's also a quiet area."

"They've got two TVs and sports networks," a quiet-until-now Tim adds.

With three hotels under consideration, the Musick's look at their options.

"The Hilton Garden is in the perfect location," Letty notes.

"Yes but the price is way over budget and we'd also have to add buying breakfast to that," Darryl says.

"The Residence with Courtyard is right by two of our favorite places and the price is very good," Letty says of property number two.



"Drug dealers and hookers," Darryl replies.

"Yes, why don't we cross that one off of our list."

"Agreed."

"How about the Homewood Suites?" Letty asks.

"It is still over budget but we do get breakfast and it's a really nice room and hotel," Darryl adds, "we could make up for it by using the in-room kitchen to prepare some of our food and drink."

"It's a bit far from the action though," Letty sighs.

"Maybe but it's not a long drive to get where we'd want to go," Darryl says.

"Well, I know where I want to stay," Letty concludes.

"Me too!" Darryl adds



"The Homewood Suites!" they say in unison.

Later, the Musick's are checked in to their new hotel location in Bakersfield.

"I thought I'd be bummed at being so far from downtown but the quiet location makes up for it and the new Westside Parkway makes the drive just five minutes," Darryl says.

"Yes, and I sleep really well on the bed and the air conditioner doesn't bother me here," Letty wraps up, "the pool is also one of the best I've enjoyed, too."

"Will you two shut up?" Tim complains, "I'm trying to watch baseball!"



Darryl
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